From Inter Press Service

Berlin is a big capital city of a country famed for making excellent automobiles, but it can no longer afford roads and is now moving people by transit, bike and especially through walking.

Berlin is not alone. Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogotá, New York City and other major cities simply cannot afford the cost, the pollution, the noise and the congestion of more cars. They are embracing a new concept called EcoMobility - mobility without private cars. 

EcoMobility is defined as moving people and goods in urban areas using combinations of walking, cycling (including electric bikes) and wheeling (roller blades), public transport, and light electric vehicles. 

The concept is being widely embraced by cities looking for affordable and effective forms of sustainable transport. 

"Cities should focus more on moving people rather than moving vehicles," said Stephen Yarwood, mayor of Adelaide, Australia. 

The fact is, cars are not very good at moving people. A standard 3.5-meter-wide city street has a maximum capacity of 2,000 people in cars per hour. The same road can carry 14,000 cyclists or 19,000 pedestrians each hour. 

Light rail in the same space can move 22,000 people, and a double lane of bus rapid transit will move 43,000 people, said Manfred Breithaupt, director of the GIZ Sustainable Urban Transport Project, a German NGO. 

The transportation sector is one of biggest contributors of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the emissions causing climate change. 

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Infographic credit: City of Münster via Lunchover IP)


Getting Around: ‘Paris EV and Bike Sharing Programs’ 

From Translogic:

In a city as densely populated as Paris, driving your own car around is about as good of an idea as speaking English to every French person you encounter. Fortunately, Paris and similar cities are setup with substantial public transit systems. But for those moments when you need a car or bike, Paris has you covered.
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Vélib’ is a new bike-sharing program that started in 2007 and has since grown into a city-wide alternative transit system. There are now almost 20,000 bikes that live at about 1,200 bike stations. These stations are scattered all around Paris’ city center, on average about 1,000 ft from one another. This kind of availability allows for quick and easy transportation, without having to hunt down bikes or places to lock them up.
If something bigger than a bike with basket is required, Paris also has an extensive car-sharing program called Autolib’. Launching in December 2011, Autolib’ operates similarly to Vélib, but for cars. Bolloré’s Blue Car is the vehicle of choice because it is cheap and all electric. The design comes from Pininfarina, an Italian design firm noted for their work with Ferrari.
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At launch, 250 cars were placed around Paris in small convoys. All the cars connect to a terminal for charging and accounting. The terminal is used to rent and unlock the vehicle. Drivers can go up to 150 miles on a single charge and speeds can hit 80 mph — but don’t ever expect to go that fast around Paris. These cars are more for commuting, when you need to carry a lot of things, or need to go somewhere that public transit doesn’t go.
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When drivers are finished, they bring the car back to an Autolib’ station and plug in. The car can fully recharge in 8 hours. The 30 kWh lithium-polymer battery is designed with frequent use in mind and can stand to last a long time.
Check out the rest of the article here. (H/ T Huffington Post)
(Photo credit: Translogic

From Fast Company:

Commuting to work is rarely a fun exercise, but it’s easier in some places than others. IBM’s annual Commuter Pain survey of 8,042 commuters in 20 cities spells it out: Roadway traffic has largely improved over the past three years, but people around the world say that road traffic is negatively affecting their stress levels now more than ever. As it stands, commuters in clogged cities like Moscow and Mexico City sometimes get stuck in traffic for hours on end. But there are solutions.

Perhaps the biggest solution is better public transportation. IBM’s survey reveals that 41% of respondents believe that improved public transportation would reduce traffic congestion. And out of the 35% of people globally who changed the way they get to work or school last year, 45% switched to public transit. In Nairobi, a whopping 70% of commuters take more public transit this year than last year.

Of course, general transportation infrastructure investments also help. Beijing, for example, is investing over $12 billion dollars in infrastructure improvements—and residents of the city have reported a significant improvement in traffic conditions over the past three years.

Check out the rest of the article here. Though, it fails to mention congestion pricingwalkable communities and telecommuting; three other promising solutions for unclogging streets that also offer sustainability benefits.

From e360:

Berlin is just one of many cities worldwide where beekeeping is enjoying a surge in popularity. Globally, a renaissance of beekeeping is underway as urban dwellers seek to reconnect with nature — and earn some money. In Hong Kong last year, expert product designer Michael Leung brought together local beekeepers and artists to form “HK Honey,” a company that markets honey from the city’s rooftops, rare green spots, and suburbs. In Britain, according to a recent report in The Guardian newspaper, membership of the British Beekeeping Association has doubled to 20,000 in just three years “as young, urban dwellers transform a rather staid pastime into a vibrant environmental movement.”

This renaissance taps into a culture of urban beekeeping with particularly deep historical roots in European cities. Paris at the turn of the twentieth century boasted more than 1,000 hives, and after a long decline following World War II, that number has resurged to almost 400. Some hives even claim expensive real estate, like that atop the historic Paris Opéra. For all of Germany, the beekeepers’ association reports the first increase in memberships in years, to over 40,000, following a long decline in both beekeepers and number of colonies.

In the U.S., where the number of colonies decreased from 6 million after World War II to 2.4 million today, thousands of young people are re-discovering this ancient skill. Beekeeping is still banned in many cities by “No Buzz Zones” for fear of people getting stung. But places like Detroit and Chicago are showcases of a movement to make it an integral part of the urban economy and ecology. Chicago’s city hall is home to more than 100,000 bees. With its rich patchwork of urban farms and open lots, Detroit is investigating beekeeping as a new tool for community development and economic growth. New York, where beekeeping fines once topped $2,000, lifted the ban last year, legalizing what many people had been doing for a long time.

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Photo credit: Impact Labs)

Infographic: ‘Climate Change and Wine’
The infographic above comes from the Globe & Mail article, 'Climate change threatens to spoil Ontario's signature wines'. Other key wine producing regions around the world (e.g. California, Australia, Chile and France) are also feeling the heat. To see how winemakers are trying to mitigate and adapt, check out Time Magazine’s 'The Fight to Save Wine From Extreme Weather'.

Infographic: ‘Climate Change and Wine’

The infographic above comes from the Globe & Mail article, 'Climate change threatens to spoil Ontario's signature wines'. Other key wine producing regions around the world (e.g. California, Australia, Chile and France) are also feeling the heat. To see how winemakers are trying to mitigate and adapt, check out Time Magazine’s 'The Fight to Save Wine From Extreme Weather'.

Reuters Video | Eco-Transport System Gives French City Clean, Green Travel Alternatives

The pioneering city of La Rochelle, France has had a bike share service since the 1970s. Now electric cars have been added to the program and the city has plans to build a clean, green future through other infrastructure improvements and citizen support. The video clip highlights these efforts before hearing some encouraging words from a couple of locals. Good stuff!